Movies Anywhere Offers Music-Only Version of ‘Last Jedi’

A score-only version of Star Wars: The Last Jedi with an audio track that isolates composer John Williams’ music is available exclusively on Movies Anywhere for a limited time to those who link a digital purchase of the film to the service.

The Lucasfilm blockbuster distributed by Walt Disney Studios debuted on digital March 13 and arrives on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 27.

Movies Anywhere March 12 added FandangoNow to its list of retail partners, which also include Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes and Walmart-owned Vudu. The digital movie rights locker service features content from Disney, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros.

Bob Chapek Expands Duties in Disney Reorganization

Bob Chapek, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, is assuming additional responsibility for all of Disney’s consumer products operations globally, including licensing and Disney stores, as chairman of the new Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products business segment.

Former head of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Chapek’s expanded duties come as Disney revamps senior management ahead of planned direct-to-consumer offerings.

“Bob comes to this new role with an impressive record of success at both parks and resorts and consumer products, and he is the perfect leader to run these combined teams,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.

Chapek, who is speculated to one day to take Iger’s position when he retires, will continue to report directly to Iger.

Separately, Kevin Mayer, who has served as Disney’s chief strategy officer since 2015, was named chairman of the new direct-to-consumer and international business segment.

“Kevin is a proven leader who has played a critical role in bringing together the collection of creative and technological assets that will allow Disney to offer unparalleled entertainment experiences in a direct-to-consumer future,” said Iger said. Mayer will also continue to report directly to Iger.

The reorganization also includes segmenting Disney’s businesses into four divisions: the newly-formed direct-to-consumer and international; the combined parks, experiences and consumer products; media networks; and studio entertainment. The reorganization is effective immediately.

The media networks business segment is co-chaired by Ben Sherwood, president, Disney|ABC Television Group, and James Pitaro, who was recently named president of ESPN and previously served as chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media.

The segment will remain virtually the same, with the exception of the international Disney Channel operations that are moving to the direct-to-consumer and international business segment along with management of global advertising sales/technology.

The studio entertainment business segment — which includes Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment —  is led by Alan Horn, chairman, The Walt Disney Studios, and remains virtually the same, with the exception of the management of program sales moving to the direct-to-consumer and international business segment. The segment includes Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disney Live Action, Pixar Animation Studios (PIXR), Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm, as well as Disney Theatrical Group and Disney Music Group.




Apple, Disney and YouTube Top Millennial Brands in New Report

Apple, Disney and YouTube, respectively, ranked as the top three most “intimate” brands among millennials, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2018 Report, which is the largest study of brands based on emotions. Brand intimacy leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.

“We were surprised and pleased to see YouTube as an addition to the top three most intimate brands for millennials this year,” stated Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM. “We believe its rise is due to our culture’s continued need for escape and the brand’s immediate, diverse content, personalities and growing offerings in movies and live TV. YouTube is clearly an established ritual in the lives of many millennials today.”

By comparison, in MBLM’s 2017 report, Disney placed first, followed by Amazon and Netflix.

The other brands that rounded out the top 10 were Target, Amazon, Nintendo, Google, Xbox, Netflix and Whole Foods.

The age group of 18-24-year-olds had a slightly different mix of top companies. The top 10 for that group were Apple, Amazon, YouTube, PlayStation, Starbucks, Nintendo, Google, Netflix, Coca Cola and Walmart.

The report analyzed the responses of 6,000 consumers and 54,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. The full report will be released on March 13, 2018.

Atom Tickets Gets Additional $60M Funding

Theatrical moviegoers may be decreasing, but the battle to sell them tickets online is escalating.

Atom Tickets March 8 announced it secured more than $60 million in new capital from Fidelity Management & Research Co. – less than two years after raising $50 million in funding from Lionsgate, The Walt Disney Co. and Twentieth Century Fox Film, all of whom contributed to the new investment.

The funding comes as Atom competes with NBC Universal-owned Fandango and subscription ticket service, MoviePass, to establish market share as gatekeepers in the margin-challenged theatrical business.

Launched in 2016, the Atom Tickets app tripled its users and ticket sales in one year. The service features advance ticket purchasing, the ability to invite friends and sit together while paying separately and concessions ordering.

In the last year, Atom Tickets formed an advisory board with Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, and Tyler Perry, among others. It teamed with T-Mobile and Chase Pay offering special ticketing offers, making purchasing tickets faster and more social.

Atom also partnered with studios to better connect them with moviegoers using proprietary data and targeting capabilities on Atom and across the web.

Exhibitor partners include AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas, Southern Theatres, Showcase Cinemas, B&B Theatres and online movie database, IMDb.

“We’re pleased to participate in this latest round of financing for Atom Tickets, which has demonstrated enormous traction with exhibition partners, studios, and moviegoers during the past year,” Michael Burns, vice chairman at Lionsgate, said in a statement.

Netflix and Sky Ink European Pact

Everyone wants a piece of British satellite TV operator Sky, including Netflix.

Sky and Netflix March 1 unveiled an agreement to bundle the SVOD pioneer into an updated Sky TV subscription pack. This partnership – the first of its kind – will give Sky subs in the United Kingdom and Ireland later this year direct access to Netflix through its Sky Q platform.

Netflix will launch on Sky Q platforms in Germany, Austria and Italy thereafter. Sky provides sports programming, movies and broadband service to 23 million homes across Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Austria.

Sky will make Netflix available to new and existing customers via a TV pack combining Sky and Netflix content side-by-side for the first time – including thousand hours of Ultra HD content, complementing Sky Q’s UHD programming.

“By placing Sky and Netflix content side-by-side, along with programs from HBO, Showtime, Fox and Disney, we are making the entertainment experience even easier and simpler for our customers,” Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said in a statement.

Integration of the Netflix app essentially turns the SVOD behemoth into a pay-TV channel enabling Sky customers – via single monthly bill and user interface – to peruse myriad programs, including “Britannia,” “Billions” and “Big Little Lies” with “The Crown,” “Stranger Things” and “Black Mirror.”

Existing Netflix customers will be able to migrate their account to the new Sky TV bundle, or sign into the Netflix app using their existing account details.

In the UK and Ireland, Sky will launch Netflix as a standalone app on Now TV’s family of streaming devices (manufactured by Roku), including on the recently launched Now TV Smart Stick. Sky Ticket in Germany and Austria, and Now TV in Italy, will launch a standalone app on their devices.

“With this innovative new partnership … Sky’s customers will be able to seamlessly access all the best entertainment in one place,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

The deal comes after Comcast announced a $31 billion offer to acquire Sky – topping an existing bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to acquire the remaining 61% stake it doesn’t own. In addition, the Walt Disney Co. has a $52 billion offer to acquire select Fox assets, including Sky.

‘Coco Day in L.A.’, Feb. 27, 2018

The city of Los Angeles declared Feb. 27 “Coco Day in L.A.” in celebration of the home entertainment release of Disney/Pixar’s animated feature film Coco. Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who represents the city’s First District, presented the honors at City Hall to director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson.  Additional voice talent in attendance included Anthony Gonzalez (the voice of Miguel), Renee Victor (the voice of Abuelita), Gabriel Iglesias (voice of the Clerk), Alfonso Arau (the voice of Papa Julio), Selene Luna (Voice of Tia Rosita), Lombardo Boyar (voice of Mariachi/Gustavo), Blanca Araceli (voice of Emcee), Dyana Ortelli (voice of Tia Victoria) and Carlos Moreno Jr. (the voice of a handful of characters including Corn Man).

For more, click here:  ‘Coco Day in L.A.’ Celebrates Release of Latest Disney/Pixar Animated Hit.

‘Coco Day in L.A.’ Celebrates Release of Latest Disney/Pixar Animated Hit

The city of Los Angeles declared Feb. 27 “Coco Day in L.A.” in celebration of the home entertainment release of Disney/Pixar’s animated feature film Coco, issued that day on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, DVD and on-demand. (The film was released two weeks earlier digitally on HD, 4K and Movies Anywhere).

Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who represents the city’s First District, presented the honors at City Hall to director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson.  Additional voice talent in attendance included Anthony Gonzalez (the voice of Miguel), Renee Victor (the voice of Abuelita), Gabriel Iglesias (voice of the Clerk), Alfonso Arau (the voice of Papa Julio), Selene Luna (Voice of Tia Rosita), Lombardo Boyar (voice of Mariachi/Gustavo), Blanca Araceli (voice of Emcee), Dyana Ortelli (voice of Tia Victoria) and Carlos Moreno Jr. (the voice of a handful of characters including Corn Man).

Coco tells the story of Miguel, a 12-year-old aspiring musician, who finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead after a mysterious chain of events. This is the first-ever animated feature to include an almost entirely Latino voice cast, including many who reside and grew up in the City of Los Angeles.

Coco is nominated for two Academy Awards – Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song “Remember Me,” and also won the 2018 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Motion Picture. The film topped the domestic Thanksgiving holiday weekend box office, became the highest-grossing film of all time in Mexico, and broke records in China.

PHOTO GALLERY: ‘Coco Day in L.A.’, Feb. 27, 2018

Comcast Offers $31 Billion in Cash for Sky

In a major consolidation move across the Atlantic, Comcast Feb. 27 announced a $31 billion cash offer for British satellite giant Sky. The $17.40 per share offer bests Rupert Murdoch’s $14.96 per share offer through 21st Century Fox.

Murdoch has sought to acquire the remaining 61% ownership of Sky after his initial 39% stake.

“Sky and Comcast are a perfect fit: we are both leaders in creating and distributing content,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement.

Sky provides sports programming, movies and broadband service to 23 million homes across Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Austria.

Notably for home entertainment, Sky’s “Buy & Keep” platform last October began offering consumers of digital movies a Blu-ray copy sent separately in the mail. Sky previously only offered a DVD backup.

Comcast, which owns NBC Universal and DreamWorks Animation, is seeking to outmaneuver The Walt Disney Co., which has a $52 billion offer for select Fox assets, including Sky.

The cable giants contends the acquisition would enhance its entertainment, distribution, and technology prowess domestically, while expanding it international footprint to more effectively compete in the rapidly changing and competitive entertainment and communications landscape.

“We already have a strong presence in London, and Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for our growth in Europe,” said Roberts.

In a statement, 21st Century Fox said it remained committed to its $15 billion cash offer for the remaining stake in Sky, announced Dec. 15, 2016.

“We note that no firm offer has been made by Comcast at this point. A further statement will be made if appropriate,” Fox said in a statement.

Media reports suggest Roberts is also considering another bid for Fox assets after Comcast’s original $60 billion offer was rejected in favor of Disney’s.


Court Denies Disney Injunction Against Redbox

In what Redbox ‎director of marketing communications Kate Brennan calls “great momentum” for the kiosk disc rental operator, a federal court in Los Angeles on Feb. 20 rejected the Walt Disney Co.’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop selling movie download codes.

Disney is the only studio that won’t sell product to Redbox. As a result, Redbox staffers buy Disney DVDs and Blu-ray Discs at retail, and then rent the discs while selling the codes – included in Blu-ray Disc combo packs – separately.

Last November, Disney filed suit, seeking to prohibit Redbox from selling codes to titles such as like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Moana at a discount to what digital copies sell for on Amazon or iTunes.

Disney argues that the sale of download codes violates copyright law. Disney includes a warning on combo packs that “codes are not for sale or transfer” – a warning underscored in the terms of use, which say the “sale, distribution, purchase, or transfer of digital copy codes …  is strictly prohibited.”

The judge, however, ruled that the warning does not constitute a contract restricting what a consumer can do with product purchased at retail.

In a critical finding, Judge Dean Pregerson ruled that “this improper leveraging of Disney’s copyright in the digital content to restrict secondary transfers of physical copies directly implicates and conflicts with public policy enshrined in the Copyright Act, and constitutes copyright misuse.”

The preliminary injunction was granted because the court agreed with Redbox’s contention that Disney was unlikely to prevail on its case.  According to the ruling, “Disney has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its contributory copyright infringement claim.”

“From Redbox’s perspective, the court’s decision was a common-sense application of the law of contracts to the unenforceable fine print on the outside of Disney’s combo packs,” Brennan said.

However, the court did rule that “at this stage of proceedings, it appears to the court that the First Sale Doctrine is not applicable to this case” – a critical cog in Redbox’s January countersuit against Disney, in which the kiosk operator maintains Disney digital codes should not be treated any differently than physical discs that it is legally entitled to rent.

The First Sale Doctrine, which video retailers used in the early 1980s to establish their right to rent videocassettes over strong studio opposition, says a copyright owner cannot prohibit a purchaser from reselling a copy of a work, such as DVD.

According to Pregerson’s ruling, “Redbox urges this court to conclude that Disney’s sale of a download code is indistinguishable from the sale of a tangible, physical, particular copy of a copyrighted work that has simply not yet been delivered.”

Specifically, the judge said that regardless what Disney’s representations on the disc case may suggest about whether or not a ‘copy’ is being transferred, he disagreed that a ‘particular material object’ exists, let alone could be transferred, prior to the time that a download code is redeemed and the copyrighted work is fixed onto the downloader’s physical hard drive.

Instead, Pregerson contends Disney appears to have sold something akin to an option to create a physical copy at some point in the future. Because no particular, fixed copy of a copyrighted work yet existed at the time Redbox purchased, or sold, a digital download code, the judge ruled the First Sale Doctrine inapplicable in the case.

The two parties will again square off in court on March 5, in a hearing on Redbox’s motion to dismiss the case.

Hulu Posted $920 Million Equity Loss for Corporate Owners in 2017

Hulu, the No. 3 domestic subscription streaming video service with 17 million subscribers, generated $920 million in combined 2017 equity losses for corporate parents Walt Disney Co., Comcast, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner.

The SVOD service, which is 30% owned by Disney, Fox and Comcast, with Time Warner holding a 10% stake, generated equity losses of $531 million during the 2016 fiscal period.

Based on Comcast’s 10K regulatory filing, the media giant recorded an equity loss of $276 million in 2017, up 64.2 % from an equity loss of $168 million loss in 2016, and $106 million loss in 2015.

Comcast said the losses were driven by higher programming and marketing costs.

Indeed, Disney Feb. 6 revealed it expects more than $250 million in equity losses on Hulu in 2018. The revised projection is up from a previously anticipated loss of $100 million. Disney is on the hook for about $450 million in capital contributions to Hulu in 2018, according to a regulatory filing.

Disney, along with other Hulu corporate owners, expect to recoup the losses through content sales delivered by proprietary channels.

Regardless, BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield believes Hulu’s fiscal losses could reach $1.7 billion in 2018 – on top of an additional $1.5 billion in combined capital investment.

Greenfield says when Hulu’s relatively low loss to corporate owners was manageable, fiscal bean counters could spin the results. But as the losses deepen, Greenfield – in a blog note – wrote, “We have virtually no disclosure on the positive impact Hulu’s spending is having on its parent companies.”